Sales in the DNA
Michael MacGinty, variously described as a synthesiser or guide, advises businesses on aspects of web, but also sales and marketing. He has been in sales since he was a kid, living above the family drapery shop on the Main Street in Letterkenny. Literally, he started off selling newspapers for John Crerand in Church Lane at age 8 in Letterkenny. Then he moved up to selling fruit and veg door to door for Jackie Quigg in Derry from a truck after school.
On a Saturday he sold Clubman shirts in the family drapery business, before he started in Hassons Manshop on Ferryquay Street, breaking boxes in the basement. This lead to an opportunity to get some time on the shop floor at 14 selling Menswear, when the shop was busy and short staffed. At 15 he was selling Boyswear in Hassons new store on Ferryquay Street in Derry, making a very handsome commission, selling Bay City Roller trousers and shirts – what a fashion! Tartan trims everywhere and people could not get enough of this 70’s Boy Band apparel. Well done Phil Coulter, you started it all off.
The money was good, the ‘craic’ was mighty and the bug was well and truly caught. If the salesman in him was not there at birth, it was certainly there by his teens, during which he sold clothes in the family store, caddied on Sundays in Portsalon and sold garden furniture, which he then had made to order.
Formal Sales Apprenticeship
After college, it was time to go and get some formal sales training. First stop Marks & Spencer in Belfast, but they did not want to train someone with a family business – smart move. Next stop, House of Fraser and Switzers in Dublin with Tom Ray, where a position was quickly acquired as a ‘trainee manager’, working long hours for short money. But what a great experience, selling everything from menswear to homewares, household linens, toys, gifts and even furs. On days off he made and sold candles in the Dandelion Market, whilst Bono busked at the entrance on St Stephens Green, in dirty old Dublin, before the market made way for the new St Stephens Green Centre. (20 years later and he had hiown shop in the new shopping centre.)
B2B Sales experience
After two years it was time to move on and very shortly it was time to sell gifts on a ‘commission only’ basis – a very different proposition. This was so successful that Michael had to set up a company and soon had to hire a sales team to cover the country selling gifts. The products sold very well, but the new challenge of managing a team of sales people was a very steep learning curve. Time to read, read and read some more.
Sales Teams – Sales Director or Sales Manager
The challenges faced when hiring and managing a sales team are so different to the challenge of actually selling on your own. It is always a gamble when hiring, regardless of how many tests you do, aptitude, interviews, Myers Briggs, probation etc.
It was back to the drawing board for this position of Sales Director. Personality clashes, lack of motivation, laziness, stubbornness, ego, mood swings, rudeness, addiction and so many other issues would come up. Every human emotion and reaction imaginable. It is like managing any team, where the personal input varies from match to match, day to day. Getting players to do the training can be a push, if you have the wrong people on the bus. When someone becomes the star salespesn,they usually want your job or your copany.
The Sales Director really has to understand and practice the art of selling. And specifically the products or services that your team sells. It is also important to understand human nature. To understand the psychology behind the sales people and the customers.
The Sales Manager can be a different role, if that position is simply to manage the activities and logistics of running the sales team. A good Sales Manager will outsource proper sales training, in order to ensure the best performance from the team. This investment may be what determines the success of a Sales Manager. Usually, companies remove their best salesperson and makes them the Sales Manager, even though they do not have the requisite skills. Sales usually drop, what a surprise! Sales and Sales Management are two very different things.
Michael’s Sales approach
Selling gifts and selling websites, the experience, was the same. The products varied, but the approach remained the same. If you can really deliver value for your potential customer, generate a good return on any investment, then you could approach sales with confidence. Granted you still have to have a technique, in order to influence the buyer in the decision making process. The buyers are there to buy, but hate to be sold to. Good buyers will give you an opportunity to convince them, but they rarely have spare time, so you better have the right approach. It had better be in the best interests of the buyer, if you are to have a relationship which can last past the first sale. And that is the target, to establish an ongoing relationship which is mutually beneficial. This is ideal for you both.
Obviously you do have to have a way to fill the funnel somehow, then move the potential clients through that funnel, delivering value at every touch point along the way. Learning to use a system a CRM or just an Excel spreadsheet will help. As will automating whatever can be automated, without losing any humanity in the process. And the process has got to be profitable for both of you.
Read more of Michael’s Sales tips HERE with loads of accumulated snippets of advice and reflections on lessons learned.
Selling is the best job in the world. If you do it right, you will never go hungry. If you can truly sell, then you can decide what to sell and therefore how much you will earn. There need be no cap on that figure, IF you truly understand selling.
Michael is said to be able to sell snow to Eskimos and sand to the Arabs, but he appreciates that this would add no value to either. For that reason he sells only what benefits his clients. He believes this so much that he will even offer guarantees. He will stand over his products and services. The aim is still the same, find potential suitable clients, who can benefit from our services and deliver value beyond their expectations. And realise that it is our duty to influence others to take action for their sake as well as ours. Our web design agency is not a hugely profitable business, but what we do makes client businesses a lot more profitable. This in turn ensures we stay busy and making ‘enough’ to stay healthy, to support our team, which is based in Ireland, mainly in Donegal and Dublin. Any profits we do earn get reinvested in agency or in to start ups based in Donegal or Dublin.
Business by Design
As a small busness Mentor, Michael beleves we need to create our Business by Design. How do you want to work, what you want to do, where, with whom, how many hours a day, how many days a week or year. You create your own business anyway, by what you do and the decisions you make. So plan it in advance and design it to be what you want it to be. Without a plan, you will get whatever transpires, so it wil not be what you want. It could be working in Donegal, as part of the Community, 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 48 weeks of the year, doing something you love in a place you love, with the clients you choose, living with the people you love. And making ‘enough’ to support your family, with a comfortable lifestyle. How would you design your business?
Michael’s Plans for the Future
Short term is to ensure that MEANit Web Design Agency remains known as the best in the North West bar none and grow further in the Dublin area, whilst being profitable enough to stay in business. Then grow the agency to employ 8 to 10 local people in Donegal to design, develop and maintain effective websites for 100’s of professionals nationwide. Donegal is an ideal place to grow the agency as the quality of life is excellent, especially if the remuneration is reasonable ‘enough’ to allow the team members enjoy life and their work in balance. We are committed to paying good remunerations to great people and being an equal opportunities employer. We never ‘offshore‘ work as we believe in supporting Irish people to protect Irish jobs, by helping professional services businesses be effective online, to get the clients they really want…
Why not have a 30 minute complimentary conversation with Michael 086 2510117 to see if he can add value for your business. Or fill in the form below.